BMC wants to make parking free for 4 hours in Mumbai malls, multiplexes

The BMC has sent the state’s Urban Development department a proposal for parking to be made free for the first four hours at malls, multiplexes and shopping centres; authorities hope this will curb congestion on the city’s roads

Fed up of the scramble to find a parking space every time you go out shopping or to watch a movie in Mumbai? Or of shelling out exorbitant amounts of money for the parking facilities at malls or multiplexes?

Finding parking may soon become less of a struggle, thanks to the BMC, which is now pushing to make parking facilities free of charge for the first few hours at malls, multiplexes and shopping centres.

The BMC has proposed that parking be made free for a few hours at malls and multiplexes, in the hope that this will lead to fewer vehicles being parked on the roads, clogging up traffic such as at this street at Zaveri Bazaar. File pics for representation
The BMC has proposed that parking be made free for a few hours at malls and multiplexes, in the hope that this will lead to fewer vehicles being parked on the roads, clogging up traffic such as at this street (below) at Zaveri Bazaar. File pics for representation

The BMC intends to pass the cost burden for this on to developers who construct parking lots at reduced costs, thanks to building norms that waive FSI (floor space index) costs for parking facilities. Officials hope that this move will greatly help to decongest the city’s roads, which are currently choked with parked vehicles, leaving little room for vehicular movement.

The decision was taken by BMC commissioner Ajoy Mehta on August 27, and will involve altering Development Control Rules (DCR) to make parking free of charge for the first four hours at commercial establishments. “We have made this proposal at the insistence of the honourable commissioner, but are still finalising it,” said chief engineer, Development Plan (DP) department, BMC, VP Chithore.

The proposal, which has already been sent to the state Urban Development department, is set to tweak DCR 36 and DCR 35 (2) (VI) under which developers are allowed to build parking facilities without having to pay any premium or fees to the state for FSI.

Despite this concession, builders and developers charge the public steep parking rates. The BMC, however, wants to pass on the benefit to citizens. It has also been proposed that commercial establishments should only impose a one-time entry charge instead of per-hour parking rates.

In addition it has been suggested that the entry charge be refunded against the purchase of products, as is the practice across the world’s leading metro cities. mid-day has a copy of the proposal, which hopes to free up space on Mumbai’s roads with this move.

“The provision of free parking will decongest the municipal roads and will encourage people to use parking available in commercial establishments and ensure free flow of vehicular traffic on roads,” reads the proposal.

It also points out that the minimum parking space required by a vehicle is 30 sq metres, which is comparable to the size of the living quarters of some in Mumbai. Nearly 14 lakh vehicles were registered in the city as of 2007, but only 3,440 find parking space at the BMC’s pay-and-park facilities.

This means that roughly 450 lakh sq m is gobbled up by on-street parking. Considering the real estate cost that is sacrificed to provide parking space on the streets, officials decided it would be better to open up parking space at commercial establishments.

Builders resist
Not everyone agrees with this point of view. Developers and builders argue that a well-planned policy is required to manage available parking spaces and control demand, and a reduction in parking costs could lead to greater use of cars and even more demand for parking in the future.

In Mumbai, leading malls and commercial spaces outsource their parking facilities to building management companies, who manage and maintain the car park and provide a small part of the money collected to the developers.

Sandeep Kulkarni, the city head for Wohr, a German company that manages car parks for Indian malls, said, “Maintaining these car parks and the salary of staff itself is a huge burden on the management; such a move would be difficult to implement in Mumbai, where the gap in demand and supply for parking is huge as it is.”

Developers also cited huge costs involved in building parking resources – parking space currently sells at about Rs 2,500 per sq ft in the city. They fear that any move to make parking free of cost for even a few hours could hit revenue hard, especially for those malls with multi-storey parking lots.

“Construction of a parking space involves huge costs, including setting up of a fire-fighting unit and lift systems. While it is true that parking is provided to builders without FSI charges, it should be the government’s priority to encourage developers to construct more and more car parks.

The government must factor in our revenue mechanism as well, for this proposal for it to be a win-win situation for all sides,” said Sunil Mantri of Mantri Realty.

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